Keys to the Game: Celtics 101, Thunder 94
Box Score Nuggets
Quote of the Night
Boston runs on dunkin’.
Like, basketball dunks… at least when it came to Friday night in Oklahoma City.
The Celtics were dead in the water, trailing by as many as 18 points during the first half, amid a game that was completely controlled by the hosts. Oklahoma City dominated on offense and swarmed on defense through the first 27 minutes of the game, suffocating the C’s at both ends.
Boston gave little reason to believe a comeback was possible, but what is that old saying from No. 5? Anything is possible?
Those who watched this contest quickly realized such was true as Boston stormed from behind to turn this one into a legitimate game during the third quarter. And it all started with a dunk – a big one.
Jaylen Brown had been struggling mightily during the contest, showing little confidence in his perimeter shot. But when he threw one down with 7:03 left in the third, his confidence – and the team’s in general – began to grow, and in a hurry.
Brown caught a harmless pass from Al Horford on the left wing, but as Paul George attempted to jump the passing lane, that harmless pass turned into a hamful pass – at least for Oklahoma City.
With George out of his way, and with the Thunder’s overall defense in poor position Brown took the ball off the dribble with his left hand and found not a soul between him and the basket. He rose up from just outside the restricted area and threw down the hammer with his right hand. The dunk brought Boston’s bench to its feet, and prompted Brown to show some confident emotion.
The dunk made it a 10-point game with 7:03 remaining in the third quarter. But the Celtics had been fueled with energy, and their run was about to be strung together.
Including two free throws Brown had hit moments before the dunk, Boston strung together a 17-5 to pull to within 67-65 with 1:47 left in the quarter.
At that point, it was a new game, and the C’s were a new team – one that was full of life and confidence.
Boston eventually took an 82-79 lead midway through the fourth quarter and outscored the Thunder 11 during the period en route to a 101-94 win.
This is tough. So tough. Al Horford will get the love in our second story of the night. For now, let’s give some to Kyrie Irving.
Irving scored 23 points Friday night, including 22 during the second half and 13 during the fourth quarter. That’s clutch.
Irving shot 9-for-13 during the second half. He drained two of his four attempts during the final two quarters. And oh yea, he also dished out all six of his assists.
How did that work out for the Celtics? Well, they only outscored Oklahoma City by 25 points during the second half while he was on the court. No big deal.
His final stat line: 25 points, six assists, five rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. The points, assists and steals all accounted for team bests.
Box Score Nuggets
- Boston scored 64 points during the second half after scoring only 37 during the first half.
- Kyrie Irving and Paul George tied for the game high in scorign with 25 points apiece.
- The contest featured only two lead changes.
- Russell Westbrook dished out a game-high 11 assists but also committed a game-high six turnovers.
- Three Thunder players (Carmelo Anthony with 14, and Paul George and Steven Adams with 10) grabbed double-digit rebounds.
- Only Jaylen Brown, with 12 boards, grabbed more than eight for Boston.
- Al Horford scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting.
- Neither team committed more than 12 turnovers.
- Boston outscored OKC by 15 points while Irving was on the floor.
- In his first appearance of the season, Marcus Morris scored nine points in 17:53 of playing time.
- Jerami Grant led all reserves with 11 points.
- Boston shot only 31.0 percent frmo the field during the first half, but shot 54.8 percent during the second half.
- Anthony and Westbrook combined to shoot just 10-for-37 from the field.
Quote of the Night
I'm really happy. You walk into the locker room at halftime and they were already talking about it. They knew they weren't playing well enough to beat a team like this.